Alliance quit shared future group

Published Thursday, 24 May 2012
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David Ford has pulled his Alliance Party out of any further involvement in a Stormont working group aimed at moving towards a shared future for everyone in Northern Ireland.

Alliance quit shared future group
Alliance leader David Ford has withdrawn his party from a Stormont working group (© Pacemaker)

The party leader made the move after deciding that the process would "actually undermine, rather than build upon, the Shared Future strategy put in place in 2005".

Mr Ford has written to the First and deputy First Ministers to confirm the move.

From now on, we believe that the debate about how we achieve a genuinely shared future should take place in public, not behind closed doors. No more illusions.

David Ford

"The current process has become an attempt at creating an illusion - an illusion that the DUP and Sinn Fein are serious about agreeing a strategy that will actually promote a shared society," he said.

According to Mr Ford, the working group - which has been seeking to produce a replacement for the Cohesion, Sharing and Integration strategy previously published by OFMdFM - was established after four years of inaction and his party had participated fully for the last eight months.

"Recently, it has become apparent that the process was coming to an end," he said.

"Not, as we had worked for, with a document that reflected the high ambitions of the people who responded to their last attempt - but with a document that reflected the other parties' lowest common denominator.

"Instead of setting the bar at a meaningful and visionary level, and working to achieve it, they appear determined to set it so low that everyone can step over it without making any real difference to this community's future."

First Minister Peter Robinson said he was surprised and disappointed at the decision which he described as a "boycott."

"No one can get absolutely everything they want out of a five party working group trying to find consensus, but we were making good progress on the document.

He added: "When Alliance thought they may not get everything they demanded, they childishly walked away from the table."

He accused the Alliance Party of making "no serious attempt" to achieve a shared agreement on good relations.

Sinn Fein MLA Martina Anderson said that eight months into the process the Alliance came to the latest meeting and flagged up issues that they said were "non negotiable."

She said that at no time in the previous eight month period had the party brought the package of demands to the table.

Ms Anderson continued: "In fact they were not actively involved in the process."

She continued: "For over a decade we have been on a journey from conflict and division to peace and there are many tangible signs of progress. Good Relations is an essential part of all of this and we are absolutely committed to delivering on this issue."

© UTV News
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1 Comments
Paddy in West Belfast Ireland wrote (819 days ago):
I would dearly like to know how the parties see a shared future evolving when unionists will not countenance partity of esteem for us nationalists. They harbour deep seated hatred of our Irishness and refuse to allow any outward expression of our identity. I am an Irishman and am very proud to be Irish. My flag is the tricolour and my national anthem is Amhrann na bFiann. There cannot be any shared future unless and until unionism grasps this fact and realises that my culture and identity has to be cherished and respected and given the same partity that they insist their british identity has. This means that the tricolour MUST be flown and our national anthem given the respect it deserves. Until this happens there will be no shared future in this part of Ireland
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